The 2013-2014 Alabama Astrobotics Team
2011-2012 Alabama Lunabotics Team Members with Dr. Buzz Aldrin
at the 2012 PISCES Conference in Hawaii.
2011-2012 Alabama Lunabotics Team in the Apollo/Saturn V
Center at Kennedy Space Center, FL
Robotic Mining in Space:
Mining is space for resources such as water ice, and regolith, which contains many elements in the form of metals, minerals, volatiles and other compounds, is a necessary step in space resource utilization. One of the primary goals is to extract propellants from the regolith such as oxygen and hydrogen which could then be used for in-space transportation. In addition, the space mining system can be used for various construction tasks that can benefit human and robotic exploration as well as scientific investigations based on the exposed topography. An example would be digging a long trench to allow for lunar stratigraphy observations and measurements. The same trench can then be used as a radiation shelter for equipment and human crew, with the addition of regolith shielding through appropriate regolith operations.
At the competition teams from around the world compete with their remote-controlled Lunabots (robotic excavators) in a super sized 24'x25' sandbox (filled with actual BP-1 regolith simulant) called the Lunarena to see who can collect the most "moon dirt."
Teams compete in five categories including:
Teams accumulate points toward the grand prize, the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence. Extra points are awarded for collaboration between a majority and minority serving institutions and multidisciplinary teams.
Awards include scholarships, school plaques, individual certificates, and KSC launch invitations for the winning teams. The overall winning team of the Joe Kosmo Award for Excellence will receive a trophy and travel expenses for each team member and one faculty advisor to participate with NASA's Research and Technology Studies (RATS) next fall.
NASA's Desert RATS project is a NASA led team of research partners working together to prepare for human-robotic exploration.
The competition is sponsored by NASA's Exploration Systems Mission Directorate (ESMD) Education.*
*Text taken from the 2010-2011 Lunabotics Mining Competition pamphlet.